By Nariya Andreeva


Menswear blogger and influencer Arooj Aftab has been breaking barriers in the quest for body positivity in fashion.

Welcome to our “Influencer Spotlight” column—where we highlight some of our favorite content creators.

Arooj is recognised in the industry as a spokesperson for body confidence and has used her styling skills to help empower others. Her focus is on raising awareness of neurofibromatosis—a condition she lives with.

Earlier this year she launched #donewithdiversity—a movement to encourage the fashion industry to rethink its language when representing different communities. With 66’000 followers, Arooj has used her platform to spread her message in a positive way.

She was kind enough to answer some of our questions on her biggest accomplishments to date; the brands she thinks are doing social media right during the Covid-19 pandemic, and much more.

Get to know Arooj:

How did you get started creating content?

I started with outfit posts on Twitter. I remember I used to get 6 retweets on some posts—at that time it was kind of a huge deal because 6 was a lot! I remember being so hyped like “OMG 6 people haha.”

I continued this for some time and shortly after I was approached by various independent magazines to guest write for them. From there I made my blog called “Vogue Wonders.”

Having your own name in your domain wasn’t a thing then—everyone created blogs that had interesting names—I thought it was cool!

I was a late bloomer to Instagram—I think I only got it in 2014—and I just began to co-share everything. But a lot has changed since then—Instagram is now my main platform, and I don’t have “Vogue Wonders” anymore.

Also back then I was still dealing with my neurofibromatosis. It was something I never spoke about, nor did I understand what was even happening to my body at the time. I was very dismissive when it came to personal things—now I am more open about it.

What’s something new you started doing during quarantine?

I wouldn’t say I’ve started anything very new. I have developed my current skills and given more time to myself. I’m starting to understand myself as a creative by managing to get experimental with my art and illustrations; make really cool prints; as well as geeking out over coding, typography, and different paper widths and colours.

I have also been looking into representation amongst various cultures around the world and how they are shown around the word “diversity”…Speaking of that, something new is, I am building my own website to consult with brands and agencies on inclusivity and how to do this authentically through my #donewithdiversity topic!

Define your style in 3 words. 

My style in three words…I’d say boyish girly street smart—can I get away with four words?

What is the biggest highlight of your influencer career so far?

The biggest highlight would be my BBC documentary ‘My Tumour Made Me Trendy’—this was a huge turning point and created my path into what it is I stand for and what I truly believe in. It have made me realise what I want to be as an influencer and how I want to inspire. I have learnt so much about myself and the way I want to be represented. It’s made me who I am now!

Who and what inspires you?

My parents of course! And in terms of public figures, the likes of Riz Ahmed, Adwoa Aboah, and the artist Jamie Reid!

If you could share one tip for someone building their Instagram channel, what would it be?

One tip would be, share what you believe in. I often find people feel they need to look or be a certain way to gain Instagram followers and get big brand campaigns, but that’s not the case. I’ve realised that myself, it’s taken to a while to find myself, I’m still finding myself!

The internet, and what gets the most likes on Instagram confuses me, but I’m becoming much more content with the fact that authenticity has much more longevity, and it may be a longer route to get where you need to get, but it’s something that will pay off positively. If you’re going to be fake online, 100% you’ll most likely get fast-tracked, but that’ll only be temporary and it won’t last. Don’t end your Instagram before it has even started!

What is a brand you think is doing things right on social? And why?

During the pandemic I’ve seen some great brands to great things, my favourites have been Gymshark, their content is great and they’re really spreading a homely positive message, their content and growth has always amazing though, they are a brand that shows great value to their customer. Another brand I think that is doing right on socials is Nike, they represented so many communities and their page feels so belonging rather than “tick boxing” – it comes across very genuine and natural.

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